Tag Archives: Holland

Intensities and associations in the end

Halfway through the afternoon Carla, Man and Narrator are sitting in the Vondelpark outside Het Blauwe Theehuis (The Blue Teahouse) [1].

Blauwe Theehuis[2]

“This morning I had mixed feelings about our proposal to start preparing the next part of our quest. On one hand, our proposal fits nicely with the overwhelming emptiness of the virtual digital world made of bits and monitors wherein we experience everyday world in our century; so I had noticed in the tram to the Vondelpark a mother giving her attention all the time to the 5 inch screen of her mobile phone instead of to her toddlers. On the other hand, in my opinion this part of our quest is not completely finished. In Florence – at the previous part of our quest – we had planned to give attention to the paintings in Holland. I also had in mind to address feelings, emotions, and the seven deadly sins according to Dante during this part of our quest. I am aware that these topics are quests in themselves. Maybe we can treat these topics in a nutshell, just like the treatment of capitalism this morning; I can nicely align the development of painting with the development of capitalism”, says Carla.

“You’re right. The transition is too abrupt, but the next few days it’s pretty stable weather for sailing: an opportunity not to let pass easily”, says Man.

“Could you summarise these subjects, so we can see how much attention will be needed”, says Narrator.

“Oil painting during and after the Reformation had boomed in Holland, because the inhabitants wanted to show their welfare within private homes – to themselves and to others – through images that showed landscapes designed by humans – as God’s steward –, paintings of tables displaying wealth of glassware, food and dishes and of course paintings of themselves and acquaintances in wealthy clothes. These paintings have characteristics of a desire to retain and acquire wealth. This way of looking, I have taken from John Berger’s “Ways of seeing” [3]; he shows a striking example of this display of prosperity with the painting “Mr. and Mrs. Robert Andrews” by the English painter Thomas Gainsborough. Many of the oil paintings by Dutch masters include a similar display of wealth and prosperity of the individual human being.

Mr and Mrs Rober Andrews[4]

In addition to the display of wealth and prosperity, these paintings ought to show always some moderation as a good steward of God suits. Essentially, many paintings show the election by God in the here and now and in the afterlife of the owner or of the person portrayed. This is in a nutshell the summary of my contribution on traditional oil painting in Holland to intensities associations. I am aware that I have done injustice to many masterpieces”, says Carla.

“I have always felt some discomfort seeing paintings made by most Dutch masters. You have aptly summarised my discomfort”, says Man.

“As idol in Amsterdam, I paid no attention to painting, I lived a life as a desirable exotic – non-Dutch – appearance. I myself was the shining chosen star to which everyone was attracted and around which life revolved. After I had left behind this life as idol, I never had time for viewing the Dutch masters. After our sailing trip I will visit several museums”, says Narrator.

“Could you give a similar summary on the seven deadly sins according to Dante?”, asks Man to Carla.

“OK. As brief as my summary of oil paintings in Holland.
The seven deadly sins of the Catholic Church had already been described in a systematic overview by clerics in the fourth century AD. In the sixth century AD, these deadly sins had been officially defined in a list by Pope Gregory. This list was used by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy. Besides the Catholic church has seven virtues opposite to the seven deadly sins.

Hieronymus Bosch had depicted the seven deadly sins in a painting [6].

Zeven hoofdzonden - Bosch

I will give a brief explanation of the seven deadly sins.

Lust is usually understood in the light of excessive thoughts, wishes or desires of a sexual nature. In Dante’s purgatory, sinners are purified of lustful/sexual thoughts and feelings by flames. In the hell of Dante sinners are blown by hurricane-like glowing winds that match their lack of self-control of lust in earthly life. During our search we have not encountered lust; in Aldous Huxly’s “Devil of Loudun” [8], lust as cardinal sin is treated: I think we can skip this cardinal sin during our quest.

Gluttony refers to both excessive eating and consuming things past the point of usefulness. Gluttony denotes waste by excessive energy: one of the pitfalls for God’s steward.
Greed/desire is a sin of excessiveness like lust and gluttony. Greed refers to a very excessive desire and a pursuit of wealth, status and power for personal gain: one of the pitfalls in the pursuit of success as a prelude to the grace of God.

Sloth has changed slightly in character in the course of the time. Initially it was seen as not fulfilling God’s gifts, talents and destination. Now it is seen as willfully negligence, e.g. of the duty of care for others, or for society. In my opinion sloth also implies the unwillingness to take notice and to be open to opinions or religions of others even if they do not comply with your own opinions or beliefs. This form of laziness consists of avoiding the question, “What is the other seen that I do not see?”.

Wrath or rage is the sin of excessive and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. In its extreme form, wrath shows itself as self-destruction. The feelings of anger and hatred may persist many generations. Wrath or anger is the only sin not necessarily associated with selfishness or self-interest.

Envy is to some extent related to greed: both sins are characterized by an inner unsatisfied desire. Envy and greed differ on two points. Firstly, greed is usually linked to material things, while envy is characterized by a more general feeling of loss. Secondly envy recognises something missing in itself that another has or seems to have.

In almost every list pride or arrogance – e.g. the opinion to be exclusively God’s elect as individual, as group or as a religion – is considered the most serious cardinal sin: it is seen as the source of the other deadly sins. Characteristics of pride or arrogance are the desire to be more, more important or more attractive than others; herewith the good works of others – in religions God’s works through other religions – are ignored. The sinner has an inordinate love of his own or of his own environment and/or religion. Dante described it as “love of the ego – in religions, one’s own faith – perverted to hatred and contempt for the other.”
This is in a nutshell the summary of the seven deathly sins”, says Carla.

“Again impressive in extension and brevity. During this introduction I must think – with shame – of my many shortcomings and mistakes in my life”, says Man.

“My most serious deadly sins had not been born out of pride or arrogance. Envy – caused by a general feeling of absence – during my puberty has encouraged me to become a child soldier with consequences that I still carry with me. My life as an idol in Amsterdam had come naturally to me; fortunately, I have left it in time away. Maybe laziness was the cause of my years at the edges of the mirror palaces of the intelligence services; although in this part of my life I had fulfilled my talents and destination given by God, I should have given more attention to the duty of care for others outside my small environment. My life as a mendicant – or Bhikṣu – has elements of envy in the form of a general lack: at that time I’ve tried to avoid cardinal sins”, says Narrator.

“Could you summarise in the same way the many forms of emotions and feelings, after we’ve had a drink?”, asks Man to Carla.

“There are many theories about emotions and there are different approaches to classify emotions [9]. The psycho-evolutionary theory of emotion by Robert Plutchik is interesting because this theory is based upon the following ten postulates [10]:

  1. The concept of emotion is applicable to all evolutionary levels and applies to all animals including humans.
  2. Emotions have an evolutionary history and have evolved various forms of expression in different species.
  3. Emotions served an adaptive role in helping organisms deal with key survival issues posed by the environment.
  4. Despite different forms of expression of emotions in different species, there are certain common elements, or prototype patterns, that can be identified.
  5. There is a small number of basic, primary, or prototype emotions.
  6. All other emotions are mixed or derivative states; that is, they occur as combinations, mixtures, or compounds of the primary emotions.
  7. Primary emotions are hypothetical constructs or idealized states whose properties and characteristics can only be inferred from various kinds of evidence.
  8. Primary emotions can be conceptualized in terms of pairs of polar opposites.
  9. All emotions vary in their degree of similarity to one another.
  10. Each emotion can exist in varying degrees of intensity or levels of arousal.

Based upon amongst others these ten postulates, Robert Plutchik composed in 1980 a wheel of emotions that consisted of the following eight basic – or biologically primitive – emotions, and eight more advanced – to increase the reproductive fitness of animals, such as the flight or fight response – emotions, each composed of two basic emotions.

Basic emotion[11]

The wheel of emotions composed by Robert Plutchik looks like:

Wheel of emotions - Robert Plutchik[11]

Recently – based on a comprehensive study of existing theories of emotions [12] – the following table is compiled from opposing basic emotions. In compiling this table, the following three criteria have been applied for emotions: 1) mental experiences with a strongly motivating subjective quality like pleasure or pain; 2) mental experiences that are a response to a particular event or object that is either real or imagined; 3) mental experiences that motivate particular kinds of behavior. The combination of these criteria distinguish emotions of sensations, feelings and moods [11].

Kind of emotion[11]

These basic overviews of feelings and emotions provide a good starting point for further exploration of these feelings, but I think a far-reaching exploration is beyond the scope of our quest. In so doing, Robert Plutchik stated in one of his works [13] that poets and writers capture and summarise the nuances of emotions and feelings better than scientists; he gave the example of how Emily Dickinson who had been raised in a Calvinist family [14] describes her feelings of despair – in my opinion the despair over a separate existence after God’s election at the end of time as close of this life and the hereafter [15] – in her poem[16]:

My life closed twice before it’s close
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event in me,

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Probably this poem also partly expresses the hope and despair of Calvinism with – at the end of time – an unimaginable separation equal in inconceivability to the separation of air from earth at the beginning of time. Is my summary on this topic sufficient?”, says Carla.

“Comprehensive in its brevity. Impressive use of the poem by Emily Dickinson at the end. Your explanation reminds me of the Buddhist question:

“When the fire at the end of time rages through and everything is destroyed, is this destroyed or not?” One master answered: “Destroyed, because it goes along with this”. Another master answered: “Not destroyed, because it is the same as this”. [17]

At the end of this part of our quest, I have the impression that the Calvinists in Holland – with their many secessions – lived as if the end of time has already come. All we know of heaven is parting from the loved ones who have another believe, and all we need of hell. The end of time will not bring change to this, “said Narrator.

“The poem by Emily Dickinson describes for me the inconceivability of the end times.
Looking at the wheel of emotions by Robert Plutchik I have noticed with gladness that joy is a combination of the two emotions optimism and love. Tracing all emotions and investigating all combinations of emotions is indeed beyond our quest. Are there other topics that we wish to investigate?”, says Man.

“I am fascinated by intensities and associations and I am often surprised by intensities and associations within our environment, in relation to the other and by my own emotions and feelings. The quest to investigate all these kind of feelings requires a full human life, “says Carla.

“In my opinion this is applicable to every part of our quest”, says Man.

“And surpasses our lives. Shall I prepare a simple meal for us in Man’s kitchen as the close of intensities and associations?”, says Narrator.

“Then we can consider during the meal where we meet tomorrow to travel to my sailboat. I can borrow a car from a former companion; he is a couple of weeks on holiday, “says Man.



[1] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blauwe_Theehuis
[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vondelpark
[3] Source: Berger, John, Ways of seeing. London: British Broadcasting Company and Penguin, 1972 p. 106 – 107
[4] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gainsborough
[5] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins
[6] Zie ook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seven_Deadly_Sins_and_the_Four_Last_Things
[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins
[8] See: Huxley, Aldous, The Devils of Loudun. 1953
[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotion_classification
[10] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Plutchik
[11] Copied from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrasting_and_categorization_of_emotions
[12] Source: Robinson, D. L. (2009). Brain function, mental experience and personality. The Netherlands Journal of Psychology, 64, 152-167
[14] Bron: http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/church
[15] Another explanation of this poem is based on the loss of two beloved ones. According to Christian faith before the Reformation a reunion may be expected at the end of time, but the explanation suggests that Immortality may be a fiction and creates the hell of the future. See: Vendler, Helen, Dickinson – Selected poems and commentaries. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010, p. 520 – 521
[16] Franklin, R.W. edited, The Poems of Emily Dickinson – Reading Edition. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 630 – 631
[17] Free rendering of the koan Dasui’s “Aeonic Fire” in: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 131 – 136


Freedom and bound: to have or to be

The next morning Carla and Man meet on the Beursplein.

“Last night I was too outspoken about Calvin’s predestination. Maybe I had the excesses in mind – e.g. the slave trade, the precipitation of revolts in the Dutch colonies, and the pursuit of capital – and I had too little attention to its merits, such as keeping livable a large piece of land below sea level and a large tolerance often based on a good business attitude. I am often too outspoken, more mildness would suit me”, says Carla.

“I admire Holland for its pictorial art, its pragmatism, its relatively good housing for everyone. This too is the result of the business attitude and God’s stewardship that has also taken shape in a socialist manner in last century. You have aptly expressed a number of starting points for derailments that were partly caused by Calvin’s doctrine of predestination. Any movement or sect that considers itself superior, has a strong tendency for derailment over time. There is Narrator”, says Man.

“Have you already been waiting a long time before this cathedral of capitalism? In many early Christian churches no regular church services take place anymore, because the believers have disappeared or have gone elsewhere. This capitalists’ cathedral is no longer in use, the followers of this religion have left for more profitable places like the South Axis in Amsterdam or the stock exchanges in London and New York”, says Narrator.
Berus van Berlage[1]

“That’s right, the capitalists pursuit maximization of profit [2], and hereby they are biting their own tails similar to players of a pyramid scheme. The sources of capital are enormous, but finite: once they will dry up.

Capitalism had already a long history before Calvinism had partially emerged from capitalism and gave further shape to it. Let me first tell you this long history in a nutshell.

Probably the meaning of capitalism is derived from the Roman word “caput” [3], which means head (of a person). This origin underlines the importance of private property within capitalism.
The onset of capitalism has probably been the use of devices by individual people to perform specific activities easier and/or faster. Among the hunter-gatherers such devices were stones to crack nuts, weapons to hunt animals and later devices combined with ingenuity to domesticate animals for food or for help during the hunt. In addition, hunter-gatherers needed a large environment as a means for their existence. When this environment or living conditions – also the possession of women and children – were threatened by other hunter-gatherers or groups of hunter-gatherers, these capital resources had to be defended.

Capitalism got a new dimension in nomadic societies of herdsmen; the capital of these nomadic herdsmen were their flocks and their pastures. The corresponding capital resources – such as animals for transport and for herding cattle – were used for tending and defending the herds of cattle, or men needed these devices – such as women and children – for survival. A religious expression within these societies of herdsmen was the cattle cycle [4]. In the Proto-Indo-European world, women represented the only possession of real value [5]; men needed the possession of livestock as a means of exchange to obtain women. In the Roman Catholic and Lutheran version of the Ten Commandments, we still see a relic hereof in the form of the ninth commandment: “Thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s wife” prior to the tenth commandment: “Thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s house” [6].

Within the agrarian capitalism of arable farming, the disposal – and later the possession of – land and water was necessary capital needed for survival [7]. In the course of time, the agrarian capitalism of arable farming has driven nomadic societies of farmers to the remote areas of Western society by occupying fixed crop lands. The introduction of the three-field system in arable farming during the early Middle Ages – in combination with limited cattle breeding – eventually allowed more people a living on permanent farmland.

Within the societies of herdsmen and farmers, bartering was needed, because people within these societies were not completely independent in their existence and because the need for specialized tools or services increased over time. There was barter needed at local markets or during fairs. The barter proceeded initially in kind; later rare objects – first rare stones or metals, and later coins with an image of a leader as trustworthy “person in the middle” – were used as “objects in the middle”.

During and after the Crusades in Western society in the second half of the Middle Ages, the trade in special items and services took further shape. Hereby, and also by the decay of feudalism arose a new economic organization during the Renaissance in Western Europe, where trade supported by the (city-)state in the form of mercantilism [8] increased further in importance. With mercantilism, the importance of coins as a trustworthy “object in the middle” also increased. Possession of coins became more and more an independent worthwhile life purpose in itself, because with money, all life goals could be obtained even remission of sins for a good afterlife through indulgences [9] within the Catholic Church.

By mercantilism, the attention within the lives of people moved more and more from “to be” to “to have”. In the earlier world of scholasticism, one was a human in a predefined order of life in which one ought to live virtuously. In the new world order, ownership of money became a great good in itself whereby a good place in life and in the hereafter could be obtained; owning and maintaining money rose in esteem, and gaining profits changed in the course of time from despicable act in a praiseworthy activity.

This form of mercantilism boomed in the Dutch Republic enormously, because of the unique position of Holland in a major river delta, because of the lack of arable farming land in Holland whereby cereals must be obtained by trade like the city-state of Athens in the fifth century BC, and because of a unique system of collective management of the polders. Additionally, the merchants and wealthy citizens in Holland – the Nouveau Riche of that time – initiated far-reaching adaptations and innovations of mercantilism.

One of the changes was the replacement of coins as “barter in the middle” by bonds [10]. Without a direct purchaser of the cargo – after examining – a shipload could be exchanged on the Dam in Amsterdam for securities. The traders in Holland did everything to perpetuate confidence in these securities

One important innovation was issuing of shares in corporations of merchants in order to make risky trading on a large scale to distant overseas colonies possible. Herewith the initiative of issuing of shares moved from nobility or (city-)state to initiatives by private individuals.
Waardepapier van de VOC uit 1662[11]

These modifications shifted the importance from coins – minted out of precious metals and imprinted with the image of a confident ruler – to securities issued by merchants and wealthy. This change shifted the economic initiative form the nobility and the (city-)state to merchants and wealthy individuals and corporations thereof.

For the “common people” of farmers, local traders and craftsmen in Holland , this new form of mercantilism meant a landslide; their whole economic existence could completely disappear in a short time by a cause from outside; others – often in modified form – may easily take over their livelihoods. They could not influence this change in any way.

Within this change of the environment of the “common people” – from a world modelled after the medieval scholasticism to a new world of mercantilism – Calvinism arose during the Reformation in relatively prosperous Geneva [12], and it found a fertile ground in the Netherlands of the 17th century AC.

By Calvinism in connection with mercantilism, the main focus of people’s lives changed from “to be” to “to have”. While in Calvinism – with its the doctrine of predestination – “being” in God’s grace was of supreme importance. But on one hand the gratitude and obligation for the elect to be God’s steward and on the other hand the constant desire for success as forecast for the election by God, meant that “to have” in earthly life is of immanent and immeasurable importance for “to be” in this life and especially in the afterlife.
In continuation of his work “Fear of freedom”, Erich Fromm states in his later work “To have or to be” [13]:

“We live in a society that is based on the three pillars of private property, profit and power. Acquiring, possessing and making profit is a sacred and inalienable right – and a duty as God’s steward according to Calvin’s predestination – of an individual human being in the new world order that has emerged from the mercantilism. Thereby it does not matter where the property comes from, nor whether there might be obligations attached to one’s property” [14].

Calvin’s predestination – embedded in mercantilism – considers “having” possessions as a predestination of God, and therefore an immutable right and duty for God’s stewards. Dorothee Sölle states in her work “Mysticism and Resistance – Thou silent screams” that Erich Fromm rightly makes a meaningful distinction between on one hand the functional properties of utensils to be used for our existence and on the other hand property for enhancing the social status of the ego, guaranteeing security in the future or just for the convenience of self-desire. About ownership of the latter kind of property, Dorothee Sölle says – I think rightly –, that it destroys the relationship with the neighbour, with nature and with the I [14]. And she states freely rendered: the forecast of a hereafter in God’s grace through the pursuit of earthly possessions soon degenerates into a prison on earth and a herald of hell. Francis of Assisi had only allowed money on the dunghill. [14]

In our modern times, paper money is exchanged for virtual bits in computer systems that offer – via monitors – access to terrestrial resources. These virtual bits had started an environment of its own, wherein mankind will be more and more a servant – or slave – to the many forms of bitcoins in these computer systems. Having access to this world of bits and monitors overshadows “being” in our daily life. Through a long detour, the emptiness of the virtual bits and monitors have confiscated the richness of our existence. This is in a nutshell my introduction to capitalism”, says Carla.

“So much in so few words in front of this cathedral of capitalism. Near this building and during your introduction, I am reminded of the haiku by Rӯokan after thieves had taken everything out from his hut:

From my little hut
Thieves took everything
The moon stayed behind [15]

The moon stands for the unshakable believe of Rӯokan”, says Narrator.

“To have or to be. After this truly somber picture of human existence. I would like to show you a different kind of emptiness: the emptiness of the Waddenzee. The next few days the weather will be good. May I invite you for the last sailing trip with my small sailboat; soon I will give the boat to a good friend who is much younger. On the sailboat we may prepare “emptiness” – the next part of our quest”, says Man.

“Shall we this afternoon look into what we still have to investigate on this part of our quest?”, asks Carla.
[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beurs_van_Berlage
[2] Another explanation about Capitalism is given at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism
[3] Source: Ayto, John, Word Origins – The hidden Histories of English Words from A to Z. London: A & C Black Publishers, 2008
[4] See also: Origo, Jan van, Wie ben jij – een verkenning van ons bestaan – deel 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Uitgeverij, 2012 p. 33
[5] See: McGrath, Kevin, STRῙ Women in Epic Mahābhārata. Cambridge: Ilex Foundation, 2009, p. 9 – 15
[6] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments
[7] See also: Beyens, Louis, De Graangodin – Het ontstaan van de landbouwcultuur. Amsterdam: Atlas, 2004
[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercantilism and http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geschiedenis_van_Europa
[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence
[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercantilism
[11] A bond of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie from 1622 AC. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waardepapier
[12] See also: Fromm, Erich, De angst voor vrijheid – de vlucht in autoritarisme, destructivisme, conformisme. Utrecht: Bijleveld, 1973 p. 67 (Fromm, Erich, Fear for Freedom. New York: Rinehart & Co, 1941)
[13] Free rendering of paragraph from: Fromm, Erich, Haben oder Sein. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2011, p. 89 (Fromm, Erich, To have or to be?. New York: Harper and Row, 1976)
[14] Sölle, Dorothee, Mystiek en verzet – Gij stil geschreeuw. Baarn: Ten Have, 1998, p. 327 – 328
[15] Source: Stevens, John, Three Zen Masters, Ikkyū, Hakuin, Rӯokan. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1993, p. 131.

Who are you: Intensities and associations

Reunion in Amsterdam: two sermons in stone

“The square in front of Amsterdam Centraal railway Station is a good place to meet Narrator again after his trip from Florence [1]. I hear his specific rhythm in the bongos of the jazz band that plays Nature Boy [2] of Eden Ahbez [3] in the distance”, says Man.

“I hear, Narrator has seen us; he changes his rhythm”, says Carla.

Carla and Man listen to the singer:

There was a man [4]

A remarkable enchanting man

One says he wandered very far,

Very far, over land and sea

A little shy and sad of eyes

But very wise, so worldly-wise.

And one day, a magic day

He crossed my way, and while he spoke

Of many things, priests [5] and kings

He said to me:

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn

Is the immense wealth of goodness”


“The text of Nature Boy is adapted for us”, says Man.

After playing this song, Narrator takes his bongos, he says goodbye to his fellow musicians and he stands with Carla and Man.

“Beautiful song. Thanks for your card. Why did you invite us here as a starting point for the survey of “Intensities and associations” at the second common reality on our Odyssey to “Who are you”?”, asks Man to the Narrator.


“In the Golden Age at the beginning of the Reformation the smaller sea-going vessels – that had returned laden with merchandise from distant lands – had moored on this place. In the 19th century  Amsterdam Centraal railway Station was built at this place. Before the Reformation many expressions of the Christian faith could be seen everywhere throughout the city. Now we can only see two beacons of Christian faith from here. In the distance we see the tower of the Old Church [7], before the Alteration [8] – whereby the Catholic administration in Amsterdam was deposited –  the Old Church had been named the St. Nicholas Church after the patron of sailors. Here before us on the waterfront we see the Roman Catholic Basilica of Saint Nicholas [9] that had been built at the end of the 19th century as the third St. Nicholas Church; the second St. Nicholas Church which is now known under the name “Ons Lieve Heer op Solder” [10], is a hidden church on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, .


As introduction to “Intensities and associations”, I suggest to visit this afternoon the Basilica of Saint Nicholas and the Round Lutheran Church at the Singel for two sermons in stone that emerged from the Protestant Reformation. We can visit tomorrow the Old Church in the Centre of Amsterdam to look at the start of the Reformation”, says Narrator.

“The Basilica of Saint Nicholas has a Christian cross as floor map as many traditional Catholic churches; but a real church tower is missing and the Church is incorporated into the street plan instead of directing to the east”, says Man.

“I wish to show you the dome of the Basilica, because the ceiling displays the huge change that the Reformation had also caused within the Roman Catholic Church in Holland. Shall we go inside?”, asks Narrator.

Carla, Man and Narrator walk to the Basilica and go inside.

“The ceiling of the dome shows no painted sermon of the Catholic faith ordered to the Medieval Scholasticism with a Divine Trinity, a Roman Catholic worldview and heaven. This dome only shows the images of the four Evangelists of the New Testament and thus a reference to the Word of God in which the Son of God was sent to Earth for the salvation of the faithful. According to the painting of this dome, the four evangelists are the connection to the Divine Light. The reference to the Word of God – that the spectator could read alone after the rise of the printing press – in this painting of the dome has taken the place of the story in images in the domes of the churches in Florence. This change in the painting of the Church dome from the image of the self/Self according to the Medieval Scholasticism in the Florentine churches to the painting in this dome of intermediaries that refers to the Light of the Other – the invisible God –, shows similarities with the third revolution in the scientific development [12] with a reference to the open-minded and non-normative representation of the Light of the Other – in this case the Divine Trinity”, says Narrator.

“Also in this Basilica the light shines from above. With the light as hope for the resurrection, the dome itself shows the constant resurrection. “Et lux perpetua luceat eis –and let perpetual light shine upon them [13]”, says Man.

“On whom shines the perpetual light? Let’s rest this question until later on our quest. In Holland I am a woman from the South, in Florence I am a woman from the North. Although I think this Dome is also excessive, I feel more at home in this church than in the lavish churches in Southern Europe”, says Carla.

“Good question with many answers over which is fought hard. Many thought that they exclusively possessed the Divine Light whereby other lights had to be extinguished with fire and sword. Shall we go to the Round Lutheran Church at the Singel to observe the influence of the Reformation on Protestantism”, says Narrator.


While Carla, Man and Narrator walk from the Prins Hendrikkade to the Singel, Narrator asks Man : “On which Buddhist question are you now working?”.

“With a – at first glance – very simple question with the metaphor of Indra’s Net in mind:

Question: “When arising and vanishing go on unceasingly, what then?”

Answer: “Whose arising and vanishing is it?”

And part of the accompanying verse:

Severing of entangling vines

Arising and vanishing in profusion – what is it? [15]

This question is very well applicable to the Reformation during the 80 year war in Holland; whose emergence and disappearance took place during this Reformation. What is “The” severing of entangling vines – arise and vanishing in profusion – of Christian faith in Holland? I do not know; “Mysterium est magnum, quod nos procul dubio transcendit” of “The mystery is great, that transcends us doubtless” [16]“, says Man.

“Life consists of change, but when everything is constantly changing, then change continues as a fixed constant. We have immediately mentioned the contradiction in this reasoning and in this starting point”, says Carla.

“I’m not so sure. The comments to this question states: “You don’t see the constant mover” and: “If you – the divine light? – agree, you have not yet escaped the senses, but if you disagree you are forever sunk in birth and death” [17]. This is a difficult question; it looks similar to the dilemma of the true faith and the direct relationship with God that the believers in Holland have constantly struggled with during and after the Reformation. There we see the Round Lutheran Church as a fortress in the shape of a donjon. The Lutherans were not allowed to build a church with a tower in Amsterdam”, says Narrator.


“This Lutheran Church reminds me of a hymn that I have learned at the Gymnasium in Rotterdam: “A mighty fortress is our God. A bulwark never failing” and “The enemy is nearing with raised flag”. At the end of this hymn is the verse: “God’s word will remain in eternity and not waiver an inch”. Let’s enter this bulwark”, says Man.

“The floor plan of the Church shows that the church-goers – as municipality in a circle – have focused their attention on the minister of the service: also these human municipalities need a “person in the middle” in order to establish and maintain mutual trust. The Church has no pictures, also no image of a Christian cross in the floor plan.

Plattegrond Ronde Lutherse Kerk Amsterdam[19]

In this church the rituals and the sermon in pictures have passed in the sermon of God’s Word. In this church sings no choir in the background, but the municipality sings at the top of their voices. The expressions of faith have changed from images, references, associations and persons in the middle as mediator for a relationship with God into an internalisation of God’s Word and singing of hymns together. In this church, it is important to be elected within God’s mighty fortress with a direct relationship with God, in which the minister expresses the common relationship with God”, says Narrator.

“This Round Lutheran Church shows me a donjon – a shelter and a private meeting – for the faithful and a rejection of and fear of infidels and dissenters. The Basilica of Saint Nicholas refers me as well via the evangelists to God’s Word, but is more distant in the reference to God and opener to outsiders as Christian beacon. The latter may have to do with my Catholic upbringing in South Limburg”, says Carla.

“Tonight I wish to give a short description of the 13th century Abbot Emo of Friesland as a contrast to the Reformation in the 16th century in Holland”, says Narrator.

[1] See also: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 165

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_Boy. John Coltrane with his quartet has recorded a version of this song on LP record. A recent (illegal?) record of this song is available via the following hyperlink: http://soundcloud.com/lennart-ginman/nature-boy-live-recording-eiv

[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eden_ahbez

[4] In Sanskrit – the language of gods in the world of humans – “man” means amongst others “tot hink, to believe and to observe”.

[5] In het woord priester zijn de woordkernen “pŗ”, “ish” en “tr” te herkennen die in het Sanskriet respectievelijk “in staat tot, beschermen of levend houden”, “God of Hoogste Geest” en “oversteken, overbrengen” betekenen.

[6] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sint-Nicolaaskerk_(Amsterdam)

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alteratie

[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_St._Nicholas,_Amsterdam

[10] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ons%27_Lieve_Heer_op_Solder

[11] Bron afbeelding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ons%27_Lieve_Heer_op_Solder

[12] See a description of this third revolution in science: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 50 en 51.

[13] Verse from the Catholic requiem mass. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_for_the_Requiem_Mass#Communion

[14] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sint-Nicolaaskerk_(Amsterdam)

[15] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998, p. 183 – 186

[16] From the Papal encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharista by Pope John Paulus II. In the word “Eucharista” one can recognise “Eu” meaning “good” in Greek, “car” pronounced as “char” meaning “to move” in Sanskrit and “I s ” pronounced as “ish” meaning “being able to” and “the supreme being/soul” in Sanskrit. See also: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013 p. 166 and Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 127

[17] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998, p. 183

[18] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronde_Lutherse_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[19] Source image: Google afbeeldingen uit: Jaarboek Monumentenzorg 1990, Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers, 1990

Five common realities – facts en logic 17

Carla, Man and the Narrator meet at seven o’clock in the evening on the Piazza della Repubblica..

“In this part of Florence we see exceptionally lush fashion in most beautiful shop windows. We have hardly discussed contemporary wealth and luxury. May I invite you for a luxurious dinner tonight? Narrator, do you know a good modern restaurant for the last supper on this part of our Odyssey?”, asks Man to Narrator.

“Nearby – on a courtyard of a Palazzo – is a very good contemporary restaurant of a worldwide chain with a menu of relatively simple Italian dishes made with quality local ingredients. A few days ago I had lunch there with an Italian friend on his invitation; the dishes are exceptional”, says Narrator.

“May I invite you to go there”, says Man.

“It is a pleasure to accept your invitation. I come back on what we did not discuss and see during our stay in Florence. We have not seen how ordinary people live, work and think in this city; this is mainly because I only speak a few words Italian. We have visited the many sights in this city volatile – or not at all. In this city we might easily accomplish a seven-year Odyssey to “facts and logic” in our search for “Who are you”. On the other hand, within our limitations we have seen an awful lot. What do you think?”, says Carla.

“Through this gate we enter the courtyard of the Palazzo. Man, did you already read the “Six memos for the next Millennium” by Italo Calvino? Maybe we can use the titles of the six memos as a beginning for looking back on our visit to Florence; a visit that includes a large part of the history of mankind”, says Narrator.

Feiten en logica 17a[1]

“We are early for diner, where shall we sit, inside or outside?”, says Man.

“I like the cosiness of a real table”, says Carla.

“Then we will request a table inside”, says Man.

After ordering their dishes, they continue their discussion.

“Coming back on the titles of the six memos: I think we may agree that “Lightness” and “Quickness” are applicable on the way we have covered “Facts and logic” in Florence. What do you think of the third title “Exactitude”? Have we met this title?”, asks Carla.

“The third memo from Italo Calvino begins as follows:

For the ancient Egyptians exactitude was symbolised by a feather, that served as a weight on scales used for the weighing of the Soul. This light feather was called “Maat” [2] – Goddess of the scales.” [3]

Feiten en logica 17b.jpg[4]

Then Italo Calvino aims to define “Exactitude”:

“To my mind “Exactitude” means three things above all:

  1. A well-defined and well-calculated plan for the work in question;
  2. An evocation of clear, incisive, memorable visual images (εικαστικοσ ín Greec) and
  3. A language as precise as possible both in choice of words and in expression of the subtleties of thought and imagination.

Within the limitations of “Lightness” and “Quickness” we have – in my opinion – satisfied these criteria during the discussions regarding “Facts and logic”. There is our starter. Enjoy your meal”, says Man.

feiten en logica 17c[5]

“Enjoy your meal”, says Narrator.

“Enjoy your meal. I agree with you that – in our opinion – these criteria are met, but others should determine within their framework and with their background whether – in their view – these criteria are met”, says Carla.

“That’s right. I am satisfied, but my father would have told a different story about “Facts and logic” as the manifestation of the “All-encompassing One”, that certainly would have perfectly met these three criteria. Within our framework and our background we have excellent met the titles of the fifth memo “Multiplicity” and the sixth – never written – memo “Consistency”; others should look for themselves whether our report does meet multiplicity and consistency. I’m not sure if we have done right to the title of the fourth memo “Visibility”. Of course we have had a very rich impression of sights in Florence and we have given these impressions a visible place within the framework of “Facts and logic”, but in the context of “Intensities and associations”, an additional completions is necessary to fully meet “Visibility”, zegt Narrator.

“Italo Calvino begins his memo “Visibility” with the verses:

Then rained down into

The high fiction of mind

of rising people[6].

These verses come from the part of the Wrathful and Rebellious in the Purgatory by Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy”; the last line I have added myself. Reading the Wrathful from this part of the purgatory I must think of two verses from Ephesians 4: 25-32 – a letter from Paul on unity and diversity – from the New Testament: “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still wrathful” and “Be kind, compassionate and forgiving on each other“.

According to Italo Cavino: ”Rains the “Visibility” – or images – down from heaven; that is, God sends them to the rising people”. As clarification of imagination, Italo Calvino quotes the following lines from the Purgatory by Dante:

You, imagination, that prevented us

Many times to perceive the world,

Although around may sound a thousand cymbals


What moved you, outside our sense?

A flash of light, created in heaven,

By itself, or by the will of God. [7]

Imagination includes science, the mind of the Warrior, mercy and compassion. Reading a flash of light and heaven, I had to thinking of the pearls game within Indra’s Net.

In Florence we have seen the world of Scholasticism changing into the imagination of reason and of the individual, with new possibilities and limitations. The mind of the warrior had adapted itself to the new conditions: the individual warrior fought no longer for overall glory of his society, but fought for glory of himself and his progeny.

In Amsterdam – during “Intensities and associations” on our Odyssey to “Who are you” – I expect to perceive the imagination during and after the Reformation – and the iconoclastic in response to Scholasticism and the excesses of the Renaissance – of the rebellious in Holland. “Then rained down into the high imagination of rising people”:

  • a direct relation with God within a compartmentalised society;
  • an unprecedented imagination in painting linked to an iconoclast within the religion;
  • a wealth, small-mindedness and embarrassment obtained by trade and exploitation;
  • a modified mind of the warrior focused on steward of God, and on efficiency and profit as outlook on the hereafter.

A first glimpse of this imagination of the rebellious, we have seen in the blue halls of the Uffizi Gallery with paintings by Dutch masters of the Golden Age. This is our last supper in our contemplation of the renaissance in Florence during our Odyssey to “Who are you”. Let us now enjoy our main course”, says Man.

Feiten en logica 17d[8]

“In overseeing the history of mankind within the appalling wealth of imagination of Indra’s net, and within the scope of our quest, we have – in my opinion – succeeded to keep “Maat” or measure at the weighing of the Soul during “Facts and logic”. We might have endless erred in the depths of hell,  wandered on the flanks of the purgatory, gone up in heaven – as tonight at this dinner. But we have completed this part of the Odyssey with hope and consolation. Let us continue the second part of “Visibility”–” The rain of imagination of rising people “– in Amsterdam during “Intensities and associations”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 17e.[9]

“At “Oneness and diversity” in the letter of Paul to the Ephesians and at “Imagination that prevented us many times to perceive the world“, I think at the same time that all of us in our urge to survive – in one form or another, for example as manifestation of the “All-encompassing One” – are connected to the “mind of the warrior” with its imagination that in a frash of light creates and transforms. We cannot avoid this mindset when we ask the questions how we will continue our life [10]; how we can acquire and maintain a place under the sun, stars and hereafter. We – living humans and Gods (?) – are rebellious when we rise for a new day with its new imaginations. Maybe we can avoid this mindset by directionless merging into the infinite “All-encompassing One”, but this completely surrender – that completely surpasses the conscious action of suicide – is not given to many of us. I think, we as living creatures, cannot escape the mind of the warrior; within this mindset we can only keep “Maat” or measure – with compassion and care – at the weighing of the Soul”, says Carla.

“You are right for this second part of our quest. Maybe “Emptiness” and the third part of our Odyssey will include surprises”, says Man.

“I’m curious. There is our dessert. Tomorrow morning Man and I will leave very early to the airport. How will you travel to Amsterdam?”, says Carla.

“I travel over land and I decide at the last minute which train or bus I will take. Although I had left the mirror world of secret services many years ago, I must keep in mind that these services still have interest in me; I try to avoid as much as possible access to my identity. About a week I expect to be with you in Amsterdam for the continuation of our Odyssey”, says Narrator.

[1] Source image: https://plus.google.com/photos/at/105332456211449523631?hl=nl

[2] Maat – as Goddess in ancient Egypt of the early pharaos – was the personification of truth stability, justice and cosmic order. Later Maat became the “Maatstaff” (or measure staff) for the mean role of the pharao. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maat

[3] Source: Calvino, Italo, Six Memos for the next Millennium. New York: Vintage Books, 1993, p. 55

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma%C3%A4t

[5] Source image: http://obika.com/portal/IT/it/dove-siamo/ristorante-firenze/tornabuoni/

[6] Source first and second line: Dante “Purgatorio” XVII.25. The third line is added by Jan van Origo.

[7] Dante “Purgatorio” XVII.13-18; translation derived from: The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri trans. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a publication of the Pennsylvania State University.

[8] Source image: http://obika.com/portal/IT/it/dove-siamo/ristorante-firenze/tornabuoni/

[9] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maat

[10] See also: Camus, Albert, The Myth of Sisyfus. (Le Mythe de Sisyphe) (1942), first page of Chapter One.

Narrator – gate in the north

It was time to discard my mask of an idol, because my heaven on earth in the inverted world of Amsterdam was slowly changing in a Buddhist hell. Everything and everyone in my area lived to my whims. The old Jewish curse “I wish you will have much personnel” and the Roman wisdom “power corrumpts” [1] described the influence that my life as icon in Amsterdam had on my personality. My destination as Narrator Nārāyana [2] was somewhere else.

In my heyday in Amsterdam I became Dutch citizen with an associated passport: I could freely travel around the world with the exception of Kenya and several countries in Africa. After saying goodbye to my friends and lovers in Holland I departed halfway spring to Sweden. I had an open invitation from my American lover to live with him in Stockholm.

In my Citroën DS I glided along the highways in Netherlands and Germany via Bremen and Hamburg to Denmark. I thought my Goddess was a fast car, but on the German autobahn I met the real “raser” or “speed devils” who moved with speeds of 200 km/h. Did they wish to flee as quickly as possible from the “here and now”?


I visited Copenhagen [4] in Denmark – the city where I would live for several years after my stay in Sweden and Norway. My amorousness still beamed around me as a halo; within hours I met friends where I could stay. Through these new friends I found accommodation one year later in this city on the water.


After a stopover of two weeks in Copenhagen, I took the ferry to Malmö. In Sweden I drove along the Swedish archipelago [6] to Stockholm [7]. I neared my destination, but before I entered the island Stadsholmen – where my beloved lived in a beautiful old house within the old town Gamla Stan [8] – I saw the City Hall of Stockholm in the distance.


For a year I moved in the golden house of hopes and dreams of my beloved in the Prästgatan [10]. A year full of music and joy, a year with a trip to the North Cape and returning along the Norwegian Fjords, a year without sorrow and a year of farewell.


In countries around the Baltic Sea many street names end on “Gatan”, “Gade” or “Gate”. Upon hearing or reading these words I was reminded of the Sanskrit lessons by my father. He taught me that in Sanskrit the word “gate” is not only a conjugation of the verb meaning “going”, but it is also the “locativus or place-conjugation” of a noun derived from the verb “to go”.

When I read many years later the following parable [12] about Buddha, I was reminded of my first arrival in Prästgatan in Stockholm: “More than 2500 years ago an outsider concealed a life sparrow in his hands and he asked Buddha “Is this sparrow in my hands alive or dead? “. Buddha straddled the “gate” [13] with his feet and asked: “Tell me, am I about to leave or enter?“” [14]

Entering the Prästgatan and the house of my beloved, it felt like an arrival and departure in my life; the sun shone her golden glow.

[1] The Roman verb “corrumpere” means “to spoil, destroy, or pollute”.

[2] The word “nama” means “designation, pointer, destiny” and “Narrator” means “taleteller” in Sanskrit. Narrator is composed of “nara” literally meaning “someone who does not rejoice” and “nara” describes an ordinary man; the verb root “tr – tarati” means “cross over”. Nārāyana means  “son of the original man”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[3] This photo is dated around 2005 AC. Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobahn

[4] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen

[5] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopenhagen

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_archipelago

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm

[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamla_stan

[9] Source image: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm

[10] “Präst” means “priest” in Swedish according to “Google Translate”

[11] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm

[12] The word “parable” comes from the Greek παραβολή (parabolē), meaning “comparison, illustration, analogy”. It was the name given by Greek rhetoricians to any fictive illustration in the form of a brief narrative. Later it came to mean a fictitious narrative, generally referring to something that might naturally occur, by which spiritual and moral matters might be conveyed . Source (more information is given): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable

[13] The Gateless Gate. See also: Yamada Kôun Roshi, Gateless Gate (Mumonkan). Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1990

[14] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 95 – 96.

Narrator – Amsterdam: the inverted world 3

My first autumn in Amsterdam was cold and wet. Still, I marvelled about the abundance of water and at the uneasiness that people felt during rainy weather. Rain was a feast in my home country, because regularly there was a lack of water for the cattle [1]. My mother moved around with her herd looking for water and new pasture. In Holland, this is all in abundance; a hole of half a meter deep is enough for water and pastures are everywhere.

During my first year in Holland, I came to love the skies. The clouds are of an enchanting beauty. The paintings of the Dutch masters show a glimpse of this wealth; the real sky together with the sun are a world miracle without precedent. In this reverse world nobody is interested in looking at the sky; except artists, but they are seen as idlers. “Time is money and we cannot make a living from looking at the sky; we have something better to do”, is the opinion of the people in Holland.


Dutch consider themselves God’s steward, but they omit to pay attention to half of God’s creation [3]: the heavenly sky [4]. In the Dutch literature is one main character who gave attention to the sky and the play of the sun, but this painter became insane, because he could not capture the sunset on a painting [5].


The second winter in Holland I began to love the shelter and the confinement of fog and mist. In this reverse world clouds on the ground are still present, as if God had chosen not to complete the separation of sky and earth around Amsterdam. The people in Holland do not notice this. The Kingdom of Heaven is for the poor in spirit [7], normal mortals should take care of the earth and afterwards God will allow the elect to his Kingdom. For me Holland was a Godlike paradise with a heavenly splendour on earth.


The next spring, a Goddess appeared in my life. One of my lovers stayed for half a year abroad and I was allowed to use his house and his Citroën DS in the meantime. He gave me ample living allowance [9]. That summer I was gliding with my white Goddess over the roads of Europe; I also visited my friends in Rome.


At the end of my second year in Amsterdam I changed from an attractive exotic appearance into an idol. In the world of fashion and vanity, I became a favourite icon. I was desired by influential attractive men who love men and equally authoritative as the King’s daughter Draupadi [11] in the Mahābhārata [12], I lived with them in polyandry.

[1] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolk

[3] According to Genesis 1:1 – the first book of Old Testament – God created/separated the sky and earth at the beginning of time. The Hebrew verb core “bara” in the Hebrew version of Genesis 1:1 has four meanings: “creation”, “cleave”, “selection” and “feed”.  Source: http://www.qbible.com/hebrew-old-testament/genesis/1.html

[4] In the Western translations of the Hebrew version of the Old Testament, the word “shamayim” is translated as “Heaven”. Probably “sky” or “firmament” is a better translation for the Hebrew word “shamayim”. See also: http://www.qbible.com/hebrew-old-testament/genesis/1.html and http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/35_home.html and Benner, Jeff A.A Mechanical Translation of the Book of Genesis – The Hebrew text literally translated word for word. 2007

[5] See: The painter Bavink in amongst others De uitvreter en Titaantjes in: Nescio, Verzameld werk I. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Nijgh en van Ditmar en Uitgeverij van Oorschot, 1996.

[6] Source photo: Marieke Grijpink

[7] See: the Gospel of Matthew 5:3 in the New Testament.

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mist

[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allowance_(money). In Holland a living allowance is just sufficient for daily life.

[10] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citro%C3%ABn_DS

[11] See also: McGrath, Kevin, STR women in Epic Mahâbhârata. Cambridge: Ilex Foundation, 2009 en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draupadi

[12] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabharata

Narrator – Amsterdam: the inverted world 2

The first winter in Holland, life was a party. Everything was different than in my native country. The days were grey, bleak and cold, but the houses were hot inside with artificial light until well into the evening. There was food in abundance, but usually the hospitality did not allow sharing a meal. In the beginning I thought that people were embarrassed for their inability to prepare a tasty meal. Much later I found out that faith, thrift and money played an important role.

Via a detour I was often invited to the meal; as a guest I offered to prepare the meal. In Rome I had learned to cook. In this way we enjoyed an un-Dutch tasty meal in an un-Dutch manner. Also my lovers appreciated my cooking.


My first winter in Amsterdam I saw real gnomes with long hair and dishevelled clothes. They wished to be free of any tradition and to discover themselves in a new world; this is all history. I still love the pop music from that time. They wished to discover themselves in a known world; I discovered myself in an inverted world; this is all history now.

The first spring in Amsterdam my exotic love wafted through the city: I met the most beautiful lovers. All were different and all were the same. With one lover we drove by car through Holland. We saw the multi-coloured striped tulip fields in the endless plains. My loves were equally direct, intense, colourful, all-encompassing and temporary as this floral splendour. I was a strange novelty from another world and therefore attractive strange within the community where men love men.


One of my lovers came from America. He had fled to Sweden to evade his mandatory contribution to the war in Vietnam as American conscript. That spring and summer he lived illegally at friends in Amsterdam because in this inverted city the new world would begin with everlasting peace. For him, I was the complementary dark yin that with his light-coloured yang would shape a way for harmony and peace. This dream lasted a marvellous half year until he had to flee to Sweden again. Later, when I could travel freely in Europe, I visited him in Stockholm several times. He let me share in the wealth of his family. Through him I learned driving a car and after his flight I owned a large American car named “Thunder Bird” for one summer. Free floating I glided as a whispering Thunder Bird through Holland. In the autumn I sold the car to get through the second winter.


At the end of the summer – Arjan my friend and lover from Kenya – came for half a year back in Holland. Via Arjan and his parents I received a permanent residence permit and later I obtained Dutch citizenship. Also in this case an inverted reasoning was followed in Holland; the army of Kenya was looking for me for my temporary membership of a political militia. At my return in Kenya my life would be in danger. By this reasoning I was turned from a perpetrator of crimes into a victim. I told Arjan that now I lived with the ghosts of killed villagers at the hands of the militia; because of this I was indirectly a victim by my own share of this crime. Arjan convinced me that if I got a Dutch passport by a white lie, I could travel freely in the world – excluding Kenya. Also in this case Amsterdam was an inverted world with an abundance; the embarrassment followed after a feast that lasted for 10 years .

[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kookkunst

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bollenstreek

[3] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Thunderbird